The adoption of 5G is just beyond the horizon, which will change many industries for the better.



Telecom experts say 5G can handle 1,000 times more traffic and is 10 times as fast as 4G – equivalent to downloading an HD movie to your cell phone in under a second. But what can this powerful new kind of network do for the healthcare industry?


 



1. Increased reliability for time-sensitive results:



In the world of today, instant service is always a plus. Patients expect instantaneous service that adheres to their needs and want processes to be done faster – such as not having to wait in the doctor’s office all day – and 5G can help. For instance, MRI scans are very large files that can upload at a snail’s pace or even end up unsuccessful. By using 5G, requesting and receiving MRI scans could happen almost instantaneously. As soon as the patient leaves the scanner, the study is already on its way.



 



2. Better patient experiences through VR, AR and mixed reality:



Using 5G can better support voice and video inputs, giving healthcare another layer of information to help improve care. This also enables the use of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, where some therapies could be carried out at home. For instance, virtual reality can help those suffering from alcohol abuse by putting them in virtual situations where they can say “no” to a drink. This self-help refusal empowers patients to keep their urges in check. Using mixed reality also can help with surgical planning and simulation, helping patients get mentally ready for the actual procedures.



 



3. Remote monitoring for rural areas:



No hospital nearby? No worries. For those further away from hospital locations, they don’t have to travel long distances to get the care they need. Whether by using data-intensive video chat (telemedicine) or monitoring patients from afar via smart devices, healthcare can benefit from 5G’s high-reliability and low-latency nature. After all, online consultations can increase transparency, attendance rates, and provide care at levels comparable to face-to-face visits.



 



 



4. Autonomous driving to doctor visits:



When it comes to doctor’s appointments, the rate of “no shows” can be as high as 30% due to a lack of reliable transportation. To improve the attendance rate for doctor appointments and therefore improve public health, the use of 5G to support autonomous driving as a convenient transportation option is a big step in the right direction. 5G can handle computational workloads that support autonomous driving, such as optimal routing, maintenance, patient engagement/entertainment and communications. Using autonomous driving also improves patient safety while on the road to their appointment.



 



5. Delivering data, fast:



5G is able to better support Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices, including devices that connect patients with providers for real-time monitoring and data collection via the cloud. Thus, the switch to 5G helps collect patient data at faster speeds, which enables advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. As healthcare represents around 30% of the world’s data (and is always growing), unlocking insights from this enormous amount of data can move the industry towards more personalized and proactive care. By combining real-time data from wearable tech with other data known to impact health, providers can predict when issues may occur before they actually occur. For example, for a patient with chronic illness and the potential to decline quickly, having a fast, proactive way to monitor health could be a lifesaver. 



The healthcare industry is slow to change, but the introduction of 5G could just be the push needed to help the industry thrive in our fast-paced digital world. Having a 5G network provides the infrastructure needed to connect smart devices, enable new ways of providing interactive care and improve the patient experience.





 



Want to learn more? Click here to connect with us and see what our experts have to say about the advent of 5G in healthcare, and how you should prepare for it.



Gianni Piccininni
VP & Managing Director of HCLS